The 49ers weren't inclined to cave to DeForest Buckner's contract demands. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After months of rumors indicating the 49ers’ priority hierarchy placed George Kittle and DeForest Buckner extensions atop the franchise’s agenda, Buckner is now a Colt and Arik Armstead has a long-term 49ers contract. Buckner’s 11th-hour negotiations with the 49ers appear to have been a fork-in-the-road moment for the franchise.

The 49ers began talking an extension with their standout defensive tackle last year, only to table a Buckner deal until 2020. However, after those discussions produced a price the 49ers deemed too high, the team began holding trade talks at the Combine, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

Buckner’s agent and the 49ers engaged in discussions at the Combine as well, per Barrows. That may have been a last-ditch effort, based on what happened next. The sides were far apart on extension value as far back as May 2019. Two weeks after the 49ers searched for trade partners, the Combine’s host team came in with a successful offer.

The Colts valued Buckner immensely, authorizing a $21M-per-year deal. That price is just $1.5M off Aaron Donald‘s AAV and worth more than any edge rusher not named Khalil Mack. The 49ers then signed Armstead to a five-year, $85M deal. While saving $4M per year by pivoting to an Armstead re-up over a Buckner deal, the 49ers will also gamble on the former’s contract year compared to the latter’s superior body of work. Of course, San Francisco also holds the No. 13 overall pick now and still employs four former first-round picks along its defensive line.

This article first appeared on Pro Football Rumors and was syndicated with permission.



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1953
Keith Molesworth
1954–1962
Weeb Ewbank
1963–1969
Don Shula
1970–1972
Don McCafferty
1972
John Sandusky
1973–1974
Howard Schnellenberger
1974
Joe Thomas
1975–1979
Ted Marchibroda
1980–1981
Mike McCormack
1982–1984
Frank Kush
1984
Hal Hunter
1985–1986
Rod Dowhower
1986–1991
Ron Meyer
1991
Rick Venturi
1992–1995
Ted Marchibroda
1996–1997
Lindy Infante
1998–2001
Jim Mora
2002–2008
Tony Dungy
2009–2011
Jim Caldwell
2012–2017
Chuck Pagano
2018-
Frank Reich

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